February 4, 2022 

Daily Briefing — Feb. 4, 2022: Upsets and triple-doubles on my mind

And a Gary Blair reunion

Good morning and TGIF friends! Welcome to The Next’s Daily Briefing, featuring the W Roundup, daily Watch List, and Yesterday’s Recap of so many great games — with a new keeper behind the desktop today! Day 87 of college basketball is here and last night did not disappoint with upsets and great games in some of the biggest conferences in the nation. The Big Ten continues to get better each week and that includes yet another triple-double from Iowa sophomore sensation Caitlin Clark.  The ACC is on the move and the SEC is packed with great games and intriguing storylines. Texas A&M head coach Gary Blair, who is retiring at the end of this season, played his former school, Arkansas for the last time in the regular season on Thursday night.  Blair led the Razorback program from 1993-2003 and is a gentleman and legend to the fans at Arkansas. 

Friday brings some great matchups to close out the work week. If you are wondering why #9 Baylor is playing #13 Texas at home tonight (8 p.m. EST on ESPN2) and then again on Sunday in Austin – the Bears were on pause for COVID protocols in January and tonight’s game is a re-scheduled contest.  Will it be more unfortunate for Baylor after that heartbreaking loss to #18 Oklahoma on Feb. 2 or for Texas who faces off with an angry Bear lineup?  There’s blood in the water – we will have to watch and see.

-Missy Heidrick

W Roundup

Free agency

  • Diamond DeShields: Her deal with Phoenix is a two-year, $152,250 AAV contract, per Richard Cohen of Her Hoop Stats. Which is a bit insane to me, given that she hasn’t been worth remotely that high of a share of the cap in over two years.
  • Stefanie Dolson: Her deal with New York is for two years at $160,000 each year, per Cohen — exactly the same as Seattle re-signee Mercedes Russell, just a year shorter. Our predictions were correct in them making the same AAV! … we were simply off by $10,000 for both.
  • Arike Ogunbowale: The three-year extension reported by Dorothy J. Gentry, who writes here and at The Athletic and many other lucky places, is for the full supermax, per Cohen. This is the first rookie-supermax extension in W history and just the second rookie extension for at least the lower max. This also overtakes the supermax belonging to Sun wing DeWanna Bonner as the least valuable contract in the league, given a host of factors including the problem that Ogunbowale’s skillset has not materially advanced since her underclassman years at Notre Dame. But Dallas remains a location at which few free agents have desired to land, so with the Wings’ plethora of rookie contracts, what else were they going to do with all that cap space?
  • Kiah Stokes: Her deal with Las Vegas is for one year at $115,000, per Cohen. Which joins Ogunbowale and Bonner as one of the least valuable allocations of that share of the cap!
  • Riquna Williams: Finally signed with Vegas, as Khristina Williams had reported was expected, on a two-year deal for $147,125 AAV, per Cohen. The super weird part is that it’s an unprotected contract; there are 11 protected contracts for a lower AAV than Williams’, and Stokes’ and Storm off-ball guard Epiphanny Prince’s $115,000 AAVs are the next-highest among unprotected players.

Boy, a lot of relatively bad contracts given out yesterday.

-Em Adler

(All times in Eastern)

Watch List, Friday, Feb. 4

Must-watch

#13 Texas @ #9 Baylor, 8 p.m., ESPN2

#19 Oregon @ #8 Arizona, 10 p.m., Pac 12 Network

Good games

Missouri State @ Southern Illinois, 7 p.m., ESPN+ ~ Two of the top teams in the MVC

Creighton @ RV* DePaul, 8 p.m., FloHoops ~ DePaul’s freshman sensation Aneesah Morrow back to work

Also watchable

Columbia at Penn, 6 p.m., ESPN+

Oregon State @ Arizona State, 8 p.m., Pac 12 Network

Providence @ Marquette, 8 p.m., FloHoops

Washington State @ Colorado, 9 p.m., Pac 12 Network

Sicko games

Butler @ #10 UConn, 7 p.m., SNY (New York’s regional NBC Sports network)

Towson @ William & Mary, 7 p.m., FloHoops

-Heidrick

Thursday, Feb. 3 recap

Big Ten games

#5 Indiana vs. Minnesota: Minnesota jumped out to a 21-17 lead after the first quarter at Indiana, but the Hoosiers slowly but surely pulled away for an 80-70 win at home. In a much-needed bounce-back win after the loss to #6 Michigan on Monday night, Indiana had four players hit double figures, including 28 points and 5 rebounds in 39 minutes from 6’3 senior forward Aleksa Gulbe. Indiana was 17-20 from the free throw line as a team and had 10 more attempts than the Golden Gophers did from the charity stripe (7-10 on the night).  Minnesota was paced by junior guard Sara Scalia who drilled 7 threes on her way to 26 points on the night, but she needed more help late in an upset bid that fell short on the road. 

#17 Maryland at Michigan State: The Terrapins escaped East Lansing with a 67-62 win, leading 32-25 at half. Michigan State held their ground and were never out of it behind 22 points from senior guard Nia Clouden and 18 from senior forward Alisia Smith, but it was the slim margin at half that pushed Maryland to their 16th win of the season and an 8-3 record in the Big Ten. Sophomore Angel Reese had 26 points and 9 rebounds (6 on the offensive end) and 6’3 junior Diamond Miller chipped in 14 points and 9 rebounds. Maryland had just a two-rebound advantage over Michigan State but outscored the Spartans 17-4 in second chance points.  That stat right there is the reason it is a happy trip back home for head coach Brenda Freese and her team.

#21 Iowa at Wisconsin: It was a dominating performance in almost every statistical category tonight for Iowa with an 84-50 win on the road over Wisconsin.  The Badgers were dealt a blow before the game when it was announced that guard Sydney Hilliard, their second leading scorer, was taking a temporary leave of absence from the team and was unavailable to play against the Hawkeyes. Sophomore Caitlin Clark continued her triple-double parade through Big Ten foes, ending the night with 27 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists. Wisconsin had 3 players in double figures, but it was not nearly enough to match the firepower of Iowa. They dominated the glass (41-26) and along with Clark had center Monica Czinano with 17 points and guard Kate Martin with 10.  The Hawkeyes shot a blistering 59% for the night from the field and Wisconsin had no answer.

RV Nebraska vs. Penn State: This game was tight through three quarters, but Nebraska used their home court advantage and put it into overdrive, outscoring Penn State 23-11 in the fourth and getting a 76-61 victory. The balance of Nebraska was on display again, with three players in double figures, led by freshman Alexis Markowski with 18 points and 4 rebounds. Sophomore guard Jaz Shelley led the Cornhuskers in rebounding (at 5’9 by the way) with 12 rebounds, 11 of them on the defensive end. Nebraska did have its hands full trying to stop the second leading scorer in the Big Ten – junior Makenna Marisa had 27 points on 9-21 from the field and 8-10 from the free throw line. Marisa needed help and did not get much from the rest of the Nittany Lions, who ended the night just 4-19 as a team from behind the arc (21%).  

ACC games

#3 N.C. State vs. Florida State: N.C. State jumped out to a 24-12 lead after the first quarter at home against Florida State, but it was the second quarter that both teams probably wanted to forget.  FSU outscored N.C. State 13-9 and you can bet head coach Wes Moore had a message at halftime for his Wolfpack squad. They responded and ended up with a 20-point win, 68-48. N.C. State finished with balanced stat sheet, like normal, paced by senior Jakia Brown-Turner with 13 points and 4 rebounds.  On the night, they shot 45% from the field and were 11-23 from three-point range. FSU falls to 10-10 on the season with just one player hitting double figures, freshman O’Mariah Gordon with 12 points.

#4 Louisville at Clemson: Louisville led by as much as 26 on the road and handled Clemson tonight 93-71. They were led by sophomore guard Hailey Van Lith who scorched the Tigers for 34 points, going 6-6 from behind the arc and 13-16 from the field on the night. Seniors Liz Dixon and Emily Engstler also hit double-figures.  Clemson tried to keep it close, going 20-24 from the free throw line, but was really the only stat line they won and could not keep up with the pace of Louisville’s offense, which was on fire at 58% from the field and 25 team assists. Efficiency and sharing the basketball are hard to match, especially when it’s the #4 team in the nation.

#20 Notre Dame vs. RV Virginia Tech: Notre Dame moves to 18-4 and 9-2 in ACC play with a 68-55 win over Virginia Tech. The Irish outscored The Hokies 16-6 in the second quarter and were able to hold 6’6 center Elizabeth Kitley in check.  She finished the night with just 8 points (3-10 from the field) and 12 rebounds but without her scoring punch, Notre Dame was able to control the second half.  The freshmen duo of guards Olivia Miles and Sonia Citron continue to play well beyond their years for head coach Niele Ivey – Miles had 24 points and 4 assists and Citron backed her up with 11 points and 7 rebounds.  Virginia Tech had just one player in double figures (guard Kayana Traylor with 16 points), and they turned it over 18 times against the Notre Dame defense.  The Irish are one of the hottest teams in the nation and show no signs of cooling off.

#24 North Carolina at Wake Forest: North Carolina gets a much-needed road win in the ACC to move to 7-4 in league play against in-state foe Wake Forest 78-59. The Tar Heels were paced by sophomore Alyssa Ustby who recorded a double-double on the night with 18 points and 10 rebounds and two others hit double figures in scoring as well. Wake Forest could not overcome a horrid first half of basketball, only scoring 15 points, 6 in the first quarter and 9 in the second.  It was a game plagued by fouls and turnovers – 44 fouls were called between the two teams and 38 turnovers committed (20 by Wake alone). 

SEC games

#1 South Carolina vs. Alabama: South Carolina has not lost in 2022 and they keep the streak alive with an 83-51 win over Alabama on Thursday night.  The Gamecocks jumped on them early with a 36-19 first quarter and allowed just five points by Alabama in the second 10 minutes.  All-American Aliyah Boston led South Carolina with yet another double-double (20 points and 10 rebounds) and Zia Cooke chipped in 14 points in 22 minutes of action. Alabama’s Brittany Davis had 20 points but was the only true bright spot on a night when offense was hard to come by – the Crimson Tide shot just 27% from the field and 25% from three.

#7 Tennessee at Florida: After a huge OT win over Arkansas on Jan. 31, Tennessee could not repeat the magic Thursday night on the road at Florida. The Gators started hot and led after the first quarter, never relinquishing that lead for the rest of the game, upsetting the #7 ranked team in the country 84-59. Senior guard Kiara Smith had 25 points on the night and was one of four Florida players in double figures. Tennessee could never match the lights-out offense of Florida (53% for the night on 18 assists) and could not take care of the basketball either. They ended the game with 18 turnovers and were outrebounded by Florida after entering tonight leading the nation in rebounds per game (50.5). There is no doubt this is a huge momentum win for interim head coach Kelly Rae Finley and the Gators and a set-back for Tennessee, who’s next game is Feb. 6 at UConn.

#14 Georgia vs. Vanderbilt: Georgia continues to quietly take care of their business in the SEC, moving to 6-3 in conference play with a 71-56 win over Vanderbilt. The Bulldogs did not shoot the ball well from the three-point line tonight (just 2-16) but it was the rest of their offensive system that worked when needed. Seniors Jenna Staiti, Que Morrison and Malury Bates all hit double-figures and their defense held Vandy to just seven points in the second quarter. The Commodores had won two straight coming into this match-up, but even with four players hitting double-figures, there was just not enough fire power or possessions to match Georgia. Vandy committed 20 turnovers, 10 alone by senior guard Brinae Alexander – you cannot do that on the road in the SEC and expect to win.

RV Arkansas at Texas A&M: It took some big-time performances tonight by Texas A&M to send their head coach out with a win against his former school. Gary Blair got a much-needed SEC victory over Arkansas 77-64, putting the Aggies now at 2-7 in the conference and Arkansas at 4-5 in SEC play. Senior Kayla Wells had 30 points (4-9 from three-point range) and fellow senior Destiny Pitts had a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds. Aaliyah Patty was a warrior on the glass for Texas A&M as the senior pulled down 19 rebounds on the night. Arkansas was needing to bounce back from that disappointing OT loss to Tennessee on Jan. 31 but could not overcome their slow start to both halves. Freshman Samara Spencer dropped 20 points and senior Amber Ramirez had 17 points, but the Razorbacks shot just 17% from three-point range and when they do not hit shots from deep, it makes for a long night.

Other games of interest

#2 Stanford at UCLA: Stanford continues to show why they are undefeated in the Pac 12, unfazed by UCLA, winning on the road 76-48. The Cardinal had two players crank out a double-double – Fran Belibi with 20 points and 13 rebounds and Lexi Hull with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Those two, along with sophomore post Cameron Brink (17 points and 8 rebounds) helped Stanford dominate UCLA on the glass, 47-34. The Bruins are short-handed right now, decimated by injuries and illness as of late and sitting at 4-5 in the Pac 12. Junior Charisma Osborne was a bright spot against Stanford, knocking in 12 points, but it’s been the lack of total team offense that has done UCLA in as of late. And when you go up against the team defense of Stanford and the scout preparation of a Tara VanDerveer squad, you have to be able to score or it will be a very tough night.

#16 BYU at Portland: BYU’s first conference loss of the season came on the road at unranked Portland, 75-64. Portland used a 21-9 second quarter to establish a lead that they did not relinquish for the rest of the night. This was a battle of old-fashioned two-point offense, with both teams hitting just four three-point shots each. Portland needed players to step up and juniors Alex Fowler (34 points, 8 rebounds) and Lucy Cochrane (18 points, 5 rebounds, 5 steals and 5 assists) answered the call. BYU was not without its regular balanced scoring (four players in double-figures) but 20 turnovers and just 14 assists could not match Portland on a night when they were firing on all cylinders. BYU must regroup because they go to Gonzaga Feb. 5, who now sits alone on top of the WCC standings at 8-0.

#22 FGCU at Central Arkansas: The big question every time FGCU takes the floor is ‘when will Kierstan Bell be back?’ If you ask them, not soon enough, but it always seems like FGCU finds a spark when needed the most. Thursday night it was 5-3 guard Tishara Morehouse, who popped for 19 points (4-11 from three-point range) in a 71-44 handling of Central Arkansas. There were five Eagles in double figures on the night, who improved to 20-1 overall and 9-0 in the ASUN. Defense is the name of the game for this team, causing 15 turnovers and holding the Sugar Bears to just 28% from the field and 14% from behind the arc. An even better number that will make head coach Karl Smesko smile? Just 6 turnovers by his team on a night when he gets his 600th career win. Congrats to Coach Smesko, who is the only coach in the history of the FGCU program. He now has the third-highest winning percentage among active Division I coaches behind only UConn’s Geno Auriemma and LSU’s Kim Mulkey. 

-Missy Heidrick

Postponed

  • #6 Michigan at Illinois
*Receiving Votes

Written by Missy Heidrick

I am a former shooting guard at Kansas State and spent almost 20 years working in Higher Education and Division 1 athletics. I am currently a basketball analyst for television and radio, contributing correspondent at The Next, WBB Naismith Award board of selectors member and run my own consulting business. I am a proud mother of two and wife to a patient husband who is almost as big of a sports junkie as I am!

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